Monday, December 01, 2008

I ♥ Book Club

My being ‘a reader’ isn’t unusual here on the blogs. Among those of us also writing it’s also a requirement, although I’ll bet, entirely a pleasure. When I meet people who don’t read (in the same compulsive way I do) they often remark on my ‘head in a book’ habit. It does define me.

I’ve always known what I wanted to read. I’ve no idea how early books came into my life (did my parents choose them?) My parents certainly never ‘managed’ my reading nor forbade anything. I was aware that my Mum disliked Enid Blyton, but both she and my Dad had a ‘any reading is good’ philosophy; they believed if you discovered a love of reading (anything) you’d always be a reader and your critical faculties would develop with maturity.

About four years ago I had a fiction reading crisis. It came upon me slowly, but I ceased to be satisfied by the type of books I was reading and then worse still, I stopped being able to choose books. It was so frustrating because I’d never been unable to select books. My lovely friend The High Priestess of Punk-chew-ation let me loose on her bookshelves. Among the ones I took and never read was Bel Canto by Anne Patchett.

Then I found out we were moving to Bangkok. There wasn’t room in my head to worry about what to read and so I just consumed ‘escapist’ novels because I needed more than ever in this time of upsidedownyness to read. This took the pressure off me and my panic and misery subsided a bit.

Then when I got to Thailand I joined a couple of book clubs. Once a month my reading was prescribed and I had agreed to read whatever it was that was nominated. (When I read in the blurb of Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami that there were ‘talking cats,’ I nearly expired on the spot. I didn’t do talking animals ... but I really enjoyed it.)

I don’t always like the book club choice but I always (barring life events) read it. Brilliant books I would NEVER have picked up with being made to, are: The Red Tent by Anita Diamant and Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes.

This month’s book for Book Club… is Bel Canto by Anne Patchett which I’d already got.

And OMG: I’ve found the book I wish I’d written.

It’s my first 5/5 for Book Club.


SueG said...

I've always loved Bel Canto too. It's about as perfect as I can imagine!

Flowerpot said...

I loved Bel Canto except for the last chapter which I think was added on at the last moment - it doesnt seem to fit. Let me kow what you think!

JJ said...

Sue, I am so loving it. I love the mixture of nationalities. Perhaps it wouldn't have had such an impact on me if I'd read it before I came to live in Thailand.

Flowerpot, OMG, I didn't post that, but I haven't actually finished it yet. I am kind of worrying about whether the end will be 'right' or not. I have a rough idea what I'd do ... I will let you know.

Debs said...

I haven't read this book, so shall have to maybe add it to the tbr piles.

HelenMH said...

I read heaps as a child as well, and I think it does stay with you. I think it's good to sometimes choose your own books and sometimes read books that other people have selected.

Lane said...

I've got that on my tbr pile. I think I'll just shift it to the top now.

So many books. So little time:-)

Carol and Chris said...

Thanks for giving me a loan of your copy....having listened to the discussion today I really can't wait to read it (and now the packing is done I will have some time)

C x

JJ said...

Debs, I so loved it.

Helen, I think that's true. Trust other people to recommend or you'll never find books you like.

Lane, I know. So hard to prioritise isn't it?

Carol, no problem. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Anonymous said...

Hi, my wife and I just moved to Bangkok. We would love to join your book club. Can we join and if so how?

JJ said...

Hi Ab, the book club I run is the British Women's Group book club. You don't need to be British to join but you do need to be a member ... whether you need to be female or not ... uhm, I don't know. It's on a Tuesday morning ... if you work, that would be a problem. You can email me on 4pmteatime (at) gmail (dot) com for more information.

Anonymous said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


JJ said...

Welcome. Oooh, not sure if you're Sharon or Joshua... Anyway, thank you.